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It’s been a while since I last posted here, and we have had a very busy summer. 

First of all our very dear friend, Christine from Australia, came to stay with us for a few weeks during May and June.  You might remember I told you that Michael and I housesat in Sydney for Christine and Jamie in February 2011.  This was the house with the most adorable rag-doll kittens, Coco – who I wanted to smuggle home with me, and Maycin who is absolutely gorgeous – and knows it!  So this was our chance to welcome Christine into our home for a change!

She had never visited Spain before, so we had lots of places we wanted to show her, both locally and within the area of Andalucía as a whole.  We were delighted to be able to show her the delights of Córdoba, Granada, Seville and Gibraltar as well as many local villages of which we are so proud.  I know that Christine had a wonderful time – as we did having her stay. 

Ever since we met last year (was it really only last year??  Wow!), Chris and I have become very good friends and speak to each other over Skype several times each week.  Fortunately for me, when I get up early each morning, she has just got home from work – so that is our chance to put the world to rights.  We are heading out to Sydney again very soon to housesit once again for Christine, so we get the chance to see the spectacular New Year fireworks over Sydney Harbour!

We also welcomed our Canadian friend, Roxanne, who we first met about five years ago on a ferry cruising around Sydney Harbour – funny how these things work out, isn´t it?  Roxanne and I happened to sit next to each other on the ferry, started chatting – and the rest as they say, is history.  You might remember I flew to Bratislava to meet up with her last summer when we took at trip down the River Danube to Budapest.

Anyway, Roxanne had been traveling around Europe for almost two months and her final week was to be with us before her long flight back to Alberta, Canada.  Again, we managed to visit quite a few places during her time here and we shared many lovely meals and there was lots of laughter.  Happy days indeed!

Of course, our son Daniel and his girlfriend Nikki came for their usual visit in July, and I know how much they always enjoy catching the sun and frolicking in the pool.  I am always amazed how brown they both look at towards the end of their holidays here – especially Nikki – but it was a pretty hot summer here, this year.  I know we don´t see them as much as we might do it we lived close to them in England, but nevertheless with a combination of our visits back to the UK and them coming here, we usually manage three or four weeks or so of real quality time together. 

At the beginning of October, Michael and I finally managed a trip to the Spanish city of Toledo, which is somewhere we have been promising to visit for a while.  We also managed to take in Don Quixote´s windmills along the way – for a spot of “tilting”! 

Our very sad news this summer was the passing of my beloved Great Auntie Lily at the beginning of July, with breast cancer.  She was a tremendous influence and constant presence throughout my life, guiding and encouraging.

We have telephoned her from many, many countries throughout the world over the years, sent postcards from our travels and, I know from her reaction, she was always delighted to receive them.  Indeed, not only did Michael and I spend last New Year´s Eve with her at her home in Blackpool (as we have done on so many years in the past), but on New Year´s Eve 2010 when we were in Australia – I telephoned her ten minutes before midnight in the UK and remained talking to her for about half an hour – so she wouldn´t be alone at the start of 2011.  How she laughed to receive that call and I know how much she enjoyed the concept!

Auntie Lily told me many times what a wonderful life she had had as she recounted many tales from her childhood.  These were wonderful to hear, as her parents were also my great-grandparents, and I was hearing stories that I would otherwise never have known, because my own grandmother (Auntie Lily´s sister, Mabel) passed away when I was only eleven years old.

Do you remember when I called one of the hens Lillian when we were house-sitting in Queensland a couple of years ago?  Or when we donated Lillian the Goat to Oxfam as our Christmas gift?  All done in Auntie Lily’s honour.

The last time I saw Auntie Lily was mid-June when Michael and I made the trip back to England to see her.  By that time she was in Trinity Hospice in Blackpool, but we were able to visit each day and I spent the days reading to her, chatting about old times, rubbing hand-cream into her swollen arms and hands and finally sharing a half bottle of Moet and Chandon champagne with her – something she absolutely loved.  It´s a wonderful final memory of her. 

Auntie Lily was a very special lady whom I adored and I will miss her dreadfully.